Here’s a switch on the whole global outsourcing trend: a Canadian custom compounder called JER Envirotech is closing compounding capacity in Malaysia and the Philippines and moving the equipment to Greenville, SC. CEO Ed Trueman told Design News in an interview that development of infrastructure at the Asian sites was difficult, and the company needs a rapid ramp-up in capacity to meet skyrocketing demand for its new wood-plastic biocomposite that is already being molded for application in toys and car trim. One compounding line will open in South Carolina by the end of the year to supplement three lines already operating in Delta, British Columbia. JER expects to add capacity in South Carolina in 2009. One hot new market is biocomposite sheet that is replacing plywood for chicken coops made by a Pennsylvania company. The JER product contains no toxic chemicals (unlike plywood) and may find a huge market in the construction industry. Other types of wood composites are already used for decking and some other building applications. JER uses a new, proprietary formula that started with a material patented by the National Research Council of Canada.
A new compression molding compound material combines the light weight, strength, and rigidity of carbon fibers with the flexibility and lower cost of glass materials in a composite compatible with automotive production.
Plastic bearings are real and millions of them are in use doing heavy-duty jobs we used to think only metals could do. Some of Germany-based igus's bearings are traveling around the world as functional parts in a car to demonstrate what they can do.
Baxter showed off his 2.0-derived moves at ATX West this year. The big red guy still looks pretty much the same, but has some new abilities, mostly due to software. The research robot version is now being used in corporate R&D departments as a design platform.
End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.